The World can sometimes be a scrambled mess of noise.…unrelenting, overpowering, debilitating noise that calls for our immediate and focused attention.

Sometimes, in an attempt to survive, we filter out the voices we think we don’t need to hear, and the emotions we think we cannot handle…

If we were standing in the middle of the subway, filtering out noise and distraction may be life-saving. But, if we are face-to-face with our spouse, filtering out their voice will always be to our detriment – and if seemingly not to our detriment, at the very least to the detriment of our children.

This Christmas Season how about we change our dialogue and the patterns of our interaction and instead of hearing the accusations of “Are You Listening to Me?” How about we get in first, and say “I Am Hearing You”.

Hearing is not just something that our ears do – it involves at least three of our senses. Sight. Sound. Touch.

Listening well and attentively has much to do with becoming SILENT and focusing on the person… what they are saying, their body language, the movements of their eyes, the emotions of their heart. So often people argue because they are hurt and afraid and frustrated about not being heard. It is of no little coincidence that the two words “listen” and “silent” share the same letters.

L-I-S-T-E-N     =     S-I-L-E-N-T

So how do we listen effectively and with attentiveness, especially in cases where there is conflict and where all we really want to do is put forward our own viewpoint and then duck before the other party has a chance to think of a clever retort or worse still, a clever and justified come-back?

I can not answer for everyone, but in my experience, first as a Divorce Attorney of many years standing and now as a full-time Divorce and Family Mediator, I have witnessed that change happens when a person starts to realize that they hold the power to change the conversation (at least in part) from a fighting one to an understanding one.

By listening attentively to what the other party is saying and reflecting back on what has been heard, the sting can be removed, the confusion clarified.

Is this easy to do? Definitely Not.

Listening to someone going off on a personal attack is never easy and certainly requires major self-control. But the value of listening and asking questions – not one, but many…..until you understand, has greater value than often meets the eye.

So how do you do it ?

  • Firstly, listen silently.
  • Secondly, don’t interrupt … it only adds fuel to the fire.
  • Thirdly, don’t finish off your spouse’s sentences. You might get it wrong and exacerbate a situation that was close to being resolved.
  • Fourthly, ask questions so that you can understand what is being said and having asked a question, repeat back what you are hearing in case you have gotten it wrong.
  • Lastly, don’t take your focus off the speaker. Keep your cellphone off, don’t answer the landline, focus on what is being said, don’t miss the moment or the opportunity in front of you.

So in a nutshell …

This coming Christmas Season why not decide to give yourself and your spouse a break from the strife and hurt that so often accompanies the stress and tension of the season.

More critically…

This coming Christmas Season what about giving yourself and your family the gift of listening and hearing and understanding – you may just be surprised at the outcome.

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